FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Minnesota manager Tom Kelly sees it as a positive sign that the Twins are good enough to demote some good players.
''That's always a good indicator when you have tough decisions to make,'' he said Monday after sending yet another veteran to the minors. ''As a manager, you don't feel like you've given anybody a job. Everybody's earned a position.''
Left fielder Chad Allen, who hit .277 in 137 games for the Twins last year, was told Monday to pack his bags.
He joined two other veterans who spent all of last year in the big leagues, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and catcher Javier Valentin, with the Salt Lake Buzz on the minor league fields.
''Allen's basically been outplayed by just about everybody in camp, in my mind,'' Kelly said. ''Very inconsistent both in the field and with his at-bats. That needs to be cleaned up.''
Kelly had to deal with 17 rookies last year, and pledged not to break camp this year with anybody who didn't deserve it despite the team's paltry payroll. ''The party's over. This is the big leagues,'' he declared.
Several players were surprised that Allen was the latest to get demoted, but Jacque Jones, who played left field on Monday, said everybody was duly warned by Kelly.
''It goes back to what he said in the beginning. He said he was going to make the necessary moves for us to have a chance to compete,'' Jones said.
Allen, who sprained a knee last week, competed for the left fielder's job with Butch Huskey, who hit .282 with 22 homers in 119 games for Seattle and Boston last season.
Allen's demotion appears to give rookie Midre Cummings an excellent chance to make the team when it breaks camp, just as Valentin's departure did for rookie catcher Matt LeCroy.
The Twins also released right-hander Bobby Ayala and sent outfielder Robin Jennings, catcher Jeff Smith, infielder Mario Valdez and right-hander Mike Lincoln to Salt Lake, leaving them with 26 players.
Ayala was a victim of good springs by rookies Johan Santana and Mark Redman.
The Twins first shook up their club by demoting Mientkiewicz on March 19. A week later, they sent down Valentin, who was expected to start after 13-year veteran Terry Steinbach retired at the end of last season.
The third round of cuts left the clubhouse just as quiet.
Right-hander Joe Mays, who beat Baltimore on Monday with six solid innings, said the moves have sent the players a message.
''You can't take anything for granted,'' he said. ''You've got to keep working, you've got to keep working hard. Because if you're not, that guy below you is, and he's going to take your spot.''
Kelly said the demotions also leave the Twins with better players to call up when somebody gets hurt or falls out of favor.
''It's an indication to the organization that it has a few more players that it can go to if something doesn't work out at this end,'' he said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.